Local painter Slaw looks to groovy mid-century

Back to the '60s.

Feb 25, 2014 at 10:54 am

We’re fans of local artist Slaw — and not just because he graciously rendered his services to Metro Times at bargain rates, painting the cover for both our Lust Issue as well as some awesome paper dolls for our Annual Manual. We just can’t help but dig his paintings’ playful bachelor pad vibe — “The Jetsons meets the Rat Pack” as he describes it.

The artist is a College for Creative Studies-trained photorealistic painter, but he settled on this graphic style around 15 years ago — long before Mad Men-fueled retromania. “This one [style] people really seemed to gravitate toward,” he says. “I put a lot of humor in it. It’s lighthearted, fun stuff.” His paintings often depict all the trappings of the era — cocktail lounges, tiki masks, bubble chairs and lots of suave dudes and smoking babes.

“I love mid-century,” Slaw says. “I collect mid-century furniture. I’ve always liked the style of that time period: the lines, the design, the clothing.” 

Slaw is nostalgic for the bygone era, but he admits he was only born in the late ’60s. To him, mid-century was the pinnacle of American refinement. “There’s a quality of life that seems to be missing from today’s culture,” he says. “There was more attention paid to detail.

“We live in a society now where everybody eats on the fly,” Slaw laments. “Dinner with your family is a thing of the past. Holding the door for a lady is a thing of the past.”

The artist has worked day gigs at advertising agencies over the years, but for the past eight he’s been able to make a living as a full-time artist, doing mostly gallery and commission work. Recently he has been commissioned to make large paintings for groovy locales like Detroit’s Roostertail and the Dirty Trick.  

When he’s not painting, Slaw is a partner in the Motor City Art Center, a funeral parlor-turned-church-turned artists space that opened in December of last year in Detroit. The center hosts a main gallery where they feature a new artist each month, as well as live performances, a weekly swing dance class and four studios that are rented out to resident artists. mt

For more information, see facebook.com/slaw.art